Posts Tagged ‘radiation’

Today’s J-blip: Safecast documentary

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Tokyo-based photographer and filmmaker Adrian Storey, who blogs at Uchujin, made a documentary on Safecast that reached the semi-finals of the Focus Forward documentary competition. The brief for the competition calls for three-minute films about “exceptional people and world-changing ideas that are impacting the course of human development.”

Yep, sounds like Safecast. Safecast is a non-profit organization that collects precise radiation readings and shares them via their website and mobile app. We reported on its collaboration with Tokyo HackerSpace a year ago and recently featured its iOS app.

Brief, informative, and shot with a cinematographic eye, the short is well worth a watch. Safecast’s founders explain in a simple, direct way why they came up with the idea of collecting radiation measurements globally and how they got the ball rolling.

Cast a vote if you like what you see and check out the other documentaries that may interest you. The film is up for the Audience Choice Award, and voting closes on Dec. 2o.

Today’s J-Blip: Safecast iOS app

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Screenshots of Safecast’s new iPhone application, showing the area around Fukushima Dai-ichi with different filters

In Japan, cute bouncy mascots are often relied on to raise awareness about campaigns or officious entities. We have our doubts, however, about whether the new mission of Kibitan — to steer kids clear of potential hotspots in Fukushima — will have much of an effect. Call us cold-hearted, but when it comes to radiation, we prefer data — reliable, independently gathered data.

For bringing peace of mind to residents of post-3.11 Japan, or travelers thinking about coming here, nothing has come closer than Safecast. We reported on Safecast Japan shortly after last year’s disaster, when the team of volunteers with Geiger counters was building up their operations at Tokyo HackerSpace.

Comprised of radiation experts, industrious hackers and citizen data-collectors, Safecast is still tirelessly cataloging radiation readings and transforming the raw data into user-friendly maps. They’ve come a long way: From an initial Kickstarter campaign, the group is now funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

Safecast recently launched an iOS application. Its most attractive feature is the “virtual Geiger counter,” which shows you their collected radiation readings, plus readings from the U.S. Department of Energy, for your current location. It’s strangely addictive. There is also a bunch of filters to play around with, which allow you to look specifically for, say, Cesium 137. Best of all, it’s free.

Apparently you can also hook up your own Geiger counter to the app and send readings back into the Safecast system.

Kibitan, we suggest that you download this one now.

Safecast and U.S. Department of Energy readings for the greater Tokyo area as seen on the Safecast iPhone app.

Today’s J-blip: Yoshitomo Nara for No Nukes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Last Friday, depending on whose estimates you believe, as many as 40,000 protestors gathered in Tokyo to send a message to Japanese Prime Minister Noda over the government’s decision to restart two nuclear reactors at the Oi power plant. Their rally cry? Simple and to the point. “No Nukes!” Later today, protest organizers hope to have over 100,000 protestors gather to make sure the message is reiterated, loud and clear.

And they’ve got some help. Popular contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara has been outspoken against the use of nuclear energy for many years and his painting of a young girl carrying a No Nukes sign has become a major icon in the movement. Last week he tweeted (@michinara3) that he wouldn’t mind if people borrowed his 1998 book “Slash with a Knife” from a library and photocopied his “NO NUKES girl” to use for protest, as long as they didn’t plan to profit from it. You can download a high-resolution version at A3 size here.

 

Tonight’s protest is 6-8 p.m. in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Nagatacho. More information is available in Japanese at Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes.

Movies, popcorn and Geiger counters

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

In post 3/11 Japan, Geiger counters continue to be a must-have product, though the range of price and quality varies wildly. Can’t afford one? Why not rent?

CK-3 rental with your DVD, ma'am?

Without much fanfare, home entertainment rental shop Tsutaya has started lending out Geiger counters from its shops in Fukushima Prefecture. The machines are available at six branches in Fukushima, and they are free, one per customer and one time only, with same-day return. Each shop has between 10 and 40 hand-held counters. There’s a ¥1,000 charge per day after the first day. Rental requires only a Tsutaya rental membership card and an ID, including a gaijin card or passport.

A Japanese blogger wrote this past Sunday that there was a line of about 20 people waiting for a Tsutaya in Koriyama to open, and another line formed immediately at the geiger counter rental counter.

Customers can choose whether they would like a counter made in Japan or China. As of Friday afternoon, a branch in Fukushima City had both available. Several other companies, such as Redstar and Level 7, have also been lending out the machines via online request forms, but Tsutaya seems to be the first outlet with simple walk-up availability.

Volunteers at Safecast, a volunteer group that has set up an extensive radiation monitoring system in Japan, are quick to point out that the counters being lent out by Tsutaya detect only the gamma radiation levels in the air and will not detect radiation contamination on surfaces or in food, which they consider the bigger concern right now. “People will obviously try to check the surface contamination and possibly even food, and it will give them readings that are totally off,” wrote a volunteer, who goes by the name Akiba, in the Safecast mailing list. However, he also added, “Anything helps, and there’s nothing wrong with renting geigers, especially if it makes people feel more at ease.”

Campaigns urge foreigners to pleeease visit Japan

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Japan’s tourist industry is in dire straits. In May, figures collected by JNTO (Japan National Tourism Association) showed that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country had dropped by 50.4 percent compared to last year. Though that’s a slight improvement on April, during which numbers were down by a massive 62.5 percent, it’s not as if foreigners are flocking back to Japan in droves. Fears of seismic activity, tsunami and, of course, radiation, are all keeping the numbers of overseas visitors down. So what’s it going to take to lure visitors back to the land of the rising sun? Here are few of the current “pleeease visit Japan” campaigns.

To increase the numbers of bums on airplane seats between Japan and Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific launched their “We Love Japan” campaign last month. Giving away 500 flights between Hong Kong and Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo, the company hoped to boost numbers of tourists as well as restore the confidence of Hong Kong citizens in Japan.

Another way of getting people back into the country is to demonstrate how safe it is, and that’s the modus operandi of the “Travel Volunteer in Japan” campaign. Created by Magellan Resorts travel agency, the competition offers the chance for one lucky winner to travel the length and breadth of the country for a total of 100 days. Reporting back on the experience to the world, the traveler will hopefully show just how safe Japan now is for tourists. Open to all non-residents, the closing date is July 31.

Though these campaigns by private companies really seem to be on the right track, Japan’s own tourism agency appears to be at a bit of a loss when it comes to bringing the tourists back. A campaign video titled “Message From Japan” (see above), which was shown in over 133 countries at airports, embassies and even in New York’s Times Square, features boy band Arashi extolling the joys of their native country. Japan Probe quite rightly pointed out that Arashi, while well-known in Asia, are completely unknown in other parts of the world. We agree that choosing native artists with an international profile, or at reasonable handle on English, might be a better approach. Luckily, last month Lady Gaga flew into Japan to lend her support, which probably did a lot more good than this this costly Arashi promo.

What do you think? Are you ready to visit Japan?

Hacking for a safer world

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Tokyo HackerSpace describes itself as “an open community lab, studio, workbench, sewing circle, machine shop+” for people into “technology, building things, gardening, cooking, science, sewing, digital art, [and] gaming+.” In more concrete terms, THS is a rented house between Ebisu and Meguro where every surface is piled with soldering guns, circuit boards and packing foam. Even the window is obscured by a self-watering hanging garden made of repurposed bottles, containers and tubing. Part of a global movement, the group’s twenty-some members pay a monthly fee to keep the materials for their projects there. Until now, that has meant sewing supplies, electronics, tool boxes and a semi-functioning electronic piano. Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, sheets of solar panels and boxes of geiger counters and their components have taken a prominent place among the organized chaos of the HackerSpace.

Tokyo HackerSpace is currently working on three main projects to help the people affected by the disasters. The one that’s received the most attention is Safecast, a project with international backing designed to provide independent radiation readings throughout Fukushima prefecture, with plans to expand beyond there later. Pieter Franken, one of the project’s leaders at THS, said, “Ideally we’d have stationary monitors placed throughout the region, but there’s a worldwide shortage of geiger counters right now.” For now, the group has created mobile monitors they call “bento geigies,” for the way the parts pack neatly into their plastic box. International Medcom donated 10 geiger counters that cost hundreds of dollars each. The hackers have bundled them with GPS loggers, wifi devices and custom circuitry that outputs the data stream to a laptop to create roving broadcasting kits that can be mounted on cars to “take radiation readings the way Google street view takes photos,” Franken said. (While the circuitry seemed seamless, two of the hackers looked a little unsure about whether the nylon straps they’d attached to the kit would be long enough to attach it to the car, lent by a local dealer.) The data is going up on Safecast.org, the organization’s own site and also to pachube, an open-source map displaying all kinds of global environmental data.

Continue reading about Tokyo Hackerspace →

RSS

Recent Posts

  • Marketers capitalize on university entrance exam time

    This week there is something weighing heavy on the minds of many students who’d like to advance to college: the National Center Test for University Admissions. It’s being held Jan. 18-19. Those with their heart set on a particular school who don’t get a good enough score may choose to spend a year, or in [...]

  • Pulsations 1.13.14

    The first batch of Pulsations in 2014 features a twist on chopstick design, a spectacular holiday illumination in Osaka and more.

  • Feelin’ lucky? The highs and lows of ‘fukubukuro’

    Whether you count fukubukuro “lucky bags” as a thank-you to shoppers, a scheme to unload less popular merchandise at the end of the year or just a way to kick off the New Year’s sales, buying a mystery pile of stuff worth [hopefully far] more than the price tag is a tempting offer to many. [...]

  • Pulsations (12.6.13)

    This collection of Pulsations brings holiday cheer in bento form, a must-see project for font-lovers, a solo stop-motion animation effort and more!

  • Joysound’s top 10 karaoke songs of 2013

    Joysound karaoke announced their top songs of 2013! However, just because they’re popular does not mean they came out this year . . .

  • Tokyo Eggs Benedict Bingo

    Eggs Benedict with awesome bacon, with a near lack of eggs, with raw tuna! Wait, raw tuna?! We sample a handful of Tokyo’s Hollandaise sauces.

  • Pulsations (11.19.13)

    Fashion, art and snacktime collide in this collection of Pulsations! Plus: Doraemon makes his 3D film debut!

  • J-blip: Tsutaya launches one-stop ‘lifestyle’ bookshop

    Bookseller Tsutaya moves into the lifestyle business and gives consumer more ways to use T-points.

  • Autumn crop of pumpkin, purple potato and pear products

    The change of season prompts a change of snack flavorings – great for those with a pumpkin craving.

  • Tokyo Designers Week 2013

    This year’s Tokyo Designers Week gets its creative juices flowing with more markets, music and a festival vibe.

Our Users Say

  • More Than Red: Great photos. Thank you for sharing.
  • kenji: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!
  • John Moore: I believed that blue, green, purple and black were inherently boy colors, while red, orange, yellow and...
  • deepak kumar: It is commom nature of guman being to play safe.
  • Janel: Not sure I could do the avocado before I read this. But it doesn’t really look too good on that burger!
Japan Times RSS Feed

RECENT JAPAN TIMES HEADLINES

  • No items